Friday, January 06, 2006

So I've been following the speculation about possible NSA bugging of CNN's Christiane Amanpour. (For those who don't know, this speculation arose after AMERICAblog's John Aravosis found an online transcript of Andrea's Mitchell's NBC interview with State of War author James Risen, in which, out of nowhere, Mitchell blurted out, "You don't have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?" -- a question that was later deleted from the transcript.)

I can't help linking this to the announcement by James Moore, coauthor of the Karl Rove expose Bush's Brain, that he's on a terrorist watch list and now has to go through extra scrutiny every time he flies.

..."Mam, I'd like to know how I got on the No Fly Watch List."

"I'm not really authorized to tell you that, sir," she explained after taking down my social security and Texas driver's license numbers.

"What can you tell me?"

"All I can tell you is that there is something in your background that in some way is similar to someone they are looking for."...

"Oh, wait," I said. "One last thing: this guy they are looking for? Did he write books critical of the Bush administration, too?"

I have been on the No Fly Watch List for a year. I will never be told the official reason. No one ever is. You cannot sue to get the information. Nothing I have done has moved me any closer to getting off the list....

This is all just speculation so far, but if, among on-the-ground reporters who may have direct contact with al-Qaeda, Amanpour has been singled out for a wiretap, that could be sheer vindictiveness. Putting Moore on an airport watch list is, unquestionably, sheer vindictiveness -- it's pure, unadulterated Nixon.

Amanpour is an on-the-ground reporter who may at times have had contact with terrorists. If you want to argue that that justifies a wiretap, you also have to argue that every other reporter who does what she does is in the same category. Should they all be wiretapped?

Amanpour, as Aravosis and others have noted, is married to James Rubin, who worked in the Clinton State Department and then in the presidential campaigns of Wesley Clark and John Kerry. That's one reason some have speculated Amanpour might be targeted, if in fact she has been.

I'd point out that she's a rare reporter who's complained about press intimidation on the part of the Bush administration. She criticized the administration -- just as Moore has. She may have been punished for it; he certainly has been. There really may be nothing more to this than that.

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